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Weekly Jobless Claims Jump to 329K


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Jobless claims shot up during the third week of April, climbing to 329,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday morning.

For the week ending April 19, the number of people filing for benefits rose by 24,000. The previous week, claims stood at 305,000 -- an upward revision of 1,000.

The four-week average also went up, increasing by 4,750 to 316,750.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday morning plans to regulate electronic cigarettes.

The proposed regulations will require that the manufacturers disclose to the FDA what is in their products and will require that the devices come with a warning label. Although e-cigarette sales to minors will be prohibited, there are currently no advertising restrictions.

The regulation has been long-anticipated as millions of Americans have started using e-cigarettes. The devices are battery-operated nicotine inhalers.

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News's chief health and medical editor, said public health officials are concerned that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to further tobacco use.

“Data show use of e-cigarettes by high school and junior high school students is on the rise," Besser said. "Once addicted to nicotine, will users move on to using tobacco with all the inherent health risks?”

“Countering the view are those who view e-cigarettes as an important step towards risk reduction for current cigarette smokers," he added. "They do not deliver the carcinogens that are the cause of so many health problems.”

There are more than 250 brands of e-cigarettes and an estimated 4 million Americans use them, according to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. However, whether the small devices are “safer” than traditional cigarettes remains unproven. Without FDA regulation it’s unclear how much nicotine or other chemicals each brand of e-cigarette holds.

A widely publicized study into the safety of e-cigarettes was done when researchers analyzed only two leading brands and concluded the devices did contain trace elements of hazardous compounds, including a chemical that is the main ingredient found in antifreeze.

Despite the announcement, it will be months to years before concrete regulation is implemented. First there will be a six-month review process after the 75-day comment period. It will be another two years before current products need to be approved by the FDA and 25 months before they need to display warning labels.


ABC US News | ABC Business News

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Which TV Streaming Service Is Right for You?


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's been a busy week in the world of streaming media services.

First, Netflix announced that it's planning a price increase of between $1 and $2, depending on the country, to help fund new content for your viewing pleasure.

Then, Amazon Prime announced members will have access to HBO classics like The Wire and The Sopranos.

Now, Dish says it's considering launching the first Internet-only pay-TV service this summer, potentially becoming first U.S. provider to offer such a standalone service.

To see a comparison of four streaming services that offer film and TV shows, their prices and potential drawbacks, click here.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Facebook Buys Activity Diary App 'Moves'


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- Facebook now has a stake in your "moves."

The company jumped into the fitness tracking market Thursday with the acquisition of Finnish company ProtoGeo Oy, which produces the popular activity diary app, Moves.

"The Moves team has built an incredible tool for the millions of people who want to better understand their daily fitness activity, and we’re looking forward to the app continuing to gain momentum," a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Facebook said the app will continue to run as a "separate, stand-alone application."

As users go about their daily activities, Moves operates quietly by gathering data from a smartphone's accelerometer.

The app is able to discern if a person is walking, running, biking or riding public transportation. It then displays a person's activity results for the day using colored circles that include metrics such as the number of steps walked and miles ran.

Facebook said key members of the Moves team will join their offices in Menlo Park, Calif.

On Wednesday, Facebook smashed analysts' expectations by posting a 72 percent increase in revenue for the first quarter.

The site also continues to grow -- with 802 million daily active users last month, an increase of 21 percent year-over-year, according to Facebook.

"We've made some long term bets on the future while staying focused on executing and improving our core products and business," Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. "We're in great position to continue making progress towards our mission."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Blowout Earnings for Apple and Facebook


Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two tech giants announced first-quarter results and both surprised Wall Street with stronger-than-expected earnings.

Apple shares overnight gained more than 8 percent after the company said it plans to buy back $30 billion in stock and raise its quarterly dividend by 8 percent. Apple also announced a 7-for-1 stock split.

It’s really benefiting from an alliance with China Mobile, selling 44 million iPhones worldwide, many in China.

Facebook now has more than a billion and a quarter users with two-thirds of them logging in every day. First-quarter earnings and sales surged with advertising revenue rising 82 percent.


ABC US News | ABC Business News

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Vacations Aren't the Same Without Your Phone


iStockThinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Used to be that people were advised never to leave home without traveler’s checks when they went on vacation.

Hardly anyone carries traveler’s checks anymore but they do carry cellphones and TripAdvisor says 90 percent of vacationers will use their mobile devices, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

As for what they’re doing on their phones, the TripAdvisor survey finds that nearly three in four need it for navigation purposes, 62 percent consult their phones for restaurants and over half will find things to do while vacationing.

Of course, in this age of having to be connected to the home base, 62 percent of people on vacation check their emails with half that number claiming to see what’s happening at work.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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One in Seven People Say They're Asleep on the Job


Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Working hard or hardly working? One way or the other, some people are able to catch a few winks while on the job, according to a survey by Virgin Pulse Institute, which bills itself as an evidence-based organization that puts research to work to help employees and companies thrive.

In a poll of nearly 1,140 workers from three U.S. companies, 15 percent admit that they napped at work at least one day a week.

That’s likely because three out of four respondents complained about feeling tired during most of the work week.

With 30 percent complaining about their sleep quality, the Virgin Pulse Institute asked why people feel so tired all the time.

The wrong room or bed temperature was the number one complaint, followed by their partners’ sleeping issues, unwanted noise or light, problems with mattresses and kids causing disruptions.

Interestingly, only 10 percent blamed health issues for their lack of sleep.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Don't Forget to Bring Your Gadget to Your Next Interview


iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- You certainly can’t hurt your chances when looking for work if you’re tech savvy.

Even better, employers believe that the strongest candidates are the ones most up to date on technological advances,

In fact, Steve Hoeffler of Vanderbilt and Stacy Wood of North Carolina State University go as far to say in a new study that, “Those who are tech savvy are also perceived as authoritative on other subjects and as leaders.”

Hoeffler and Wood contend that workplace candidates enhance their chances of employment or improve their current status on the job by merely owning a smartphone, tablet or tech-wear such as Google Glass.

What's more, the researchers believe people are viewed as a better boss or leader if they appear authoritative about a device rather than actually being able to operate it.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Diet-Shake Company Says It Disciplined Nearly 600 Distributors Making Medical Claims


Frederic J. Brown//AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nearly 600 independent distributors of the diet and nutrition sales brand Herbalife were disciplined last year for making medical claims when selling the company’s weight-loss shakes and supplements, despite company policies aimed at preventing such tactics.

Herbalife revealed the internal figures after an ABC News undercover investigation found numerous examples of distributors boasting to potential customers that the company’s products helped treat maladies ranging from diabetes to heart disease.

A Staten Island, N.Y., Herbalife distributor even told a potential customer -- who was actually an ABC News reporter wearing a hidden camera -- that a woman with a brain tumor became symptom-free after starting on Herbalife products.

“She used to shake like this because she lost control of her motor skills to the tumor and she said part of her cerebellum was deteriorated,” he said. “If you see her now, she’s like one of us here....Whatever it is that the product did, it helped her a lot.”

Herbalife executives told ABC News that the company had taken pains to prohibit such tactics.

“I am appalled to hear you say this,” said Herbalife President Des Walsh, when confronted with ABC News findings in an interview. “What is happening there is a complete and absolute violation of our rules.”

In training materials, Herbalife instructs its members to avoid such claims. “Nutrition club members may share their experiences from using the products, but the products are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition, and under no circumstances should there be any statements, advertising or implications to the contrary,” one such warning says.

Walsh said that based on the feedback the company gets from “secret shoppers” who conduct compliance inspections for Herbalife, the instances of improper medical claims are rare.

But ABC News reporters encountered them multiple times after going undercover into nutrition clubs and training centers run by local distributors in the New York area.

The company encourages members to use personal testimonials to sell their products and recruit new distributors. At one session in Queens, N.Y., a parade of members rose to talk about their personal experiences with the products. One distributor said before she started with Herbalife she was suffering from early congestive heart failure.

“Nothing worked, I tried everything before Herbalife,” she said. “I had to stop three or four times on a flight of stairs. I got on these products, and in about three days that dry cough that a heart patient has started to go away. And you can see, I have incredible energy, and I love these products.”

Another said, “Thanks to the product, I don’t have any problems at all – I don’t get sick at all during the year with a flu or cold or nothing.”

A distributor elicited cheers when she announced that Herbalife had helped her become pregnant.

ABC News first began its investigation to learn more about the operations of the multi-level-marketing business, which is now facing investigations from the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Illinois Attorney General. At the same time, the company has been buffeted by heavy criticism from a New York hedge fund, Pershing Square, which has wagered $1 billion on the prospect that Herbalife would be shut down by the government, resulting in the collapse of its publicly traded stock.

Herbalife has defended itself, saying the company’s business model is a legitimate and proven success with 30 years of history behind it. The company has seen enormous growth in recent years, emerging from a history checkered by controversy.

Walsh noted the company has hired scientists -- even a Nobel laureate -- to help it develop products that support a healthy lifestyle. Richard Carmona, the former United States surgeon general, joined the Herbalife board of directors in October 2013, and says he carefully reviewed the company’s literature and procedures before signing on. He said he would be deeply concerned if Herbalife distributors were selling the company’s products as medical cures.

“It's serious,” he said. “You give people false hope. They may not go to their doctors. They may not take their medicines. That would be absolutely abysmal.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Facebook CFO David Ebersman To Step Down


Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- Facebook's chief financial officer David Ebersman will step down later this year after serving in the position for nearly five years, the social networking company announced Wednesday.

Ebersman will be succeeded by David Wehner on June 1 and remain with the company through September for the transition. Wehner currently serves as Facebook's vice president of corporate finance and business planning.

"David has been a great partner in building Facebook, and I'm grateful for everything he's done to help make the world more open and connected," founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. "David set us up to operate efficiently and make the long-term investments we need, and built an incredibly strong team including Dave Wehner, our next CFO. I look forward to working with Dave in his new role."

Ebersman plans to move back to a career in health care.

In another big announcement Wednesday, Facebook reported its first-quarter numbers, with revenue at $2.5 billion. The total is an increase of 72 percent from the first quarter of 2013.  The number of monthly active users as of March 31 came in at 1.28 billion, an increase of 15 percent year-over-year.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Wall Street Stocks Slide Lower After Six-Day Streak


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --After a six-day rise, Wall Street markets took a dive following investors' reactions to the latest earning news and a less-than-stellar report on home sales.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 13 points at 16,501.65. The Nasdaq Composite lost nearly 35 points at 4,126.97, and the S&P 500 fell 4 points at 1,875.39.

A report from the Commerce Department on Wednesday shows a decrease in the number of Americans purchasing new homes. Sales of newly-built homes dropped more than 14 percent in March.  Representatives attributed colder weather to the dip in numbers.

Adding to dropping stocks, surgical robot maker Intuitive Surgical plunged 11 percent after a drop in its first-quarter earnings. Among those advancing were airlines, with Delta up 4 percent.

Facebook reported its first-quarter earnings, announcing a revenue of $2.5 billion and earnings per share of 34 cents. Apple declared a net profit of $10.2 billion, with quarterly sales of $45.6 billion and a 7 for 1 stock split.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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New Home Sales Down 14.5% in March


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For the second month in a row, the number of Americans purchasing new homes has taken a plunge.

The Commerce Department reported on Wednesday that sales of newly-built homes dropped more than 14 percent in March to the lowest rate since July of last year.

"[It's a] bit of a surprise that it dropped so severely after we've gotten past most of the weather effects," says David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

Compared to a year ago, new home sales are down sharply -- 13.3 percent.

Crowe says changed requirements for mortgages may be behind the drop.

"We've had tightened mortgage standards. We've had new requirements put in place as a result of legislation that was passed a couple of years ago, and the result has been blocking out a fair number of potential home-buyers. I think that's the primary reason behind the dramatic fall," he explains.

He says he expects a decent return for the rest of 2014, "but it does depend heavily upon Congress coming up with solutions to how the federal government backs mortgages."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Satisfaction with Airlines Is Very Low, Survey Finds


iStock 360/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Don't expect too much when you fly.

According to a new survey of consumers, airlines have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any travel-related industry.

“It doesn’t surprise me, especially with so many mergers: the labor forces of so many airlines have been faced with compensation cuts, changes in corporate culture,” says travel blogger Brian Kelly of thepointsguy.com.

“Airlines’ employees are not happy, and that trickles down to the consumer,” he adds.

This summer during peak travel times, Kelly says, it pays for passengers to know their rights in case they are bumped from an overbooked flight. But don’t go to the airport with attitude.

“You’ve got to set your expectations, enter that airport with your goal, which is to get to your destination and take things as they come,” he says.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Why Apple Can't Quit Steve Jobs


Apple, Inc.(NEW YORK) -- Despite Steve Jobs' advice to never think about what he would do, the ghost of the visionary founder still rules at Apple two and a half years after his death, according to industry watchers.

The late CEO's voice is heard at the beginning and end of a video showing off Apple's eco-friendly and futuristic-looking office space that gained renewed attention online this week -- just another reminder of the inextricable link between Jobs and the brand he built.

"Despite having been gone for two and half years already, we are still waiting to see what Apple will be like without him," Eric Slivka, editor-in-chief at MacRumors, told ABC News. "[Jobs'] legacy has carried on within the company and its executives are undoubtedly following in his footsteps in many regards, but Apple is [also] undoubtedly evolving under Tim Cook."

As Jobs' hand-picked successor, Cook has steered the company through two and a half years of increased competition from competitors, including tech giant Samsung, but hasn't introduced the next "breakthrough" product.

Apple is scheduled to release its second quarter earnings after the closing bell Wednesday, and many analysts, including Brian Colello at Morningstar, are predicting flat results as Apple fans wait for the next big thing. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

The forecast “doesn’t point to much growth,” Colello said, another sign that Apple is moving sideways.

Slivka added: "It won’t be until we do or do not see another breakthrough product segment from Apple that we’ll have a better idea of what the future holds for Apple without Jobs."

"It’s been four years since the iPad was introduced, which to some feels like an eternity but in reality isn't particularly long when you look back to the iPhone in 2007 and the iPod in 2001."

Patrick Moorhead, principal technology analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, told ABC News that Jobs' presence will continue to be a part of the company for the foreseeable future, but that Cook also deserves credit for his stewardship.

"I don’t think Tim Cook is trying to come off as Steve Jobs. I think he’s trying to take it to the next level, a company that can be great for the next 25 years. I think we will have to see. Apple will have to bring out a category killer product or they risk losing that luster," he said.

On Tuesday, Apple unveiled a new advertising campaign touting its green initiatives and included an introductory video narrated by Cook. While "think different" may have been ingrained in the Jobs era, Cook tried out a new line: "Better."

"Better. It's a powerful word, and a powerful ideal," Cook says in the introduction. "It makes us look at the world and want more than anything to change it for the better. To innovate, improve, to reinvent. To make it better."

Yukari Iwatani Kane, who wrote about Apple after Steve Jobs in the book Haunted Empire, told ABC News the video is even more proof that Apple has changed since Jobs died, even though she said the company might not want people to think so.

"What you’re seeing there is Apple trying to create a vision without Steve Jobs and personally to me, I wasn’t very convinced by it," she said.

"Steve was Apple and Apple is Steve. It was all about him. ...Now that he’s no longer there, Apple has to forge an identity of its own. Apple stardom was there in part because of Steve’s stardom. Who is the star now?" Kane asked.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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New Green Sriracha Heats Up Competition for Rooster Brand


Musahi/Huy Fong(NEW YORK) -- Could a new green sriracha unseat the famous red rooster sauce as a favorite condiment of spice lovers everywhere?

Midori Green Sriracha, sold by N.Y.-based Musahi foods, calls its sauce a "unique Japanese interpretation of the classic sauce."

Company president Gideon Sarraf told ABC News his creation is made from green chilies, which he called "a little hotter and more flavorful than jalapenos," and rice vinegar, among other "natural ingredients."

Sarraf said his sriracha is also thicker than the famous Huy Fong Foods red sauce.

Sarraf took shipment of the first green sriracha about 30 days ago, he said. It was something he had been making for himself for a while, and he just had a feeling if he could get the word out on the product the "marketing would do itself." His company is just six months old.

Right he was. Since the first news story on his product appeared on Monday, the response has been tremendous. After getting off to a slow start in the first few weeks, the company is now taking an order every two to three minutes, he said. On Amazon, sales are up 162,000 percent in just a few days, a number, he said, that "doesn't even make any sense."

Right now, the sauce is sold online at the company website and on Amazon. Sarraf said it's available in a few retail stores in New York right now, but that he is in talks with "a ton" of distributors and retailers. He said the goal is to get his product mainstreamed into supermarkets as soon as possible, and said he had no interest in limiting it to gourmet or specialty shops.

Timing may be everything, even when it comes to condiments. Sriracha has made headline after headline in recent months, from December's speculation about a worldwide sriracha shortage to recent news that one California city has declared a sriracha factory a public nuisance.

A representative for Huy Fong Foods could not be immediately reached on Wednesday by ABC News for comment.

But does Sarraf expect to hear from the makers of the red sriracha? "I haven't yet, and I very much doubt I will," he said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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